October 8, 2012 - 19:33 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Insurgents shelled the main city of Sudan's oil-producing South Kordofan state near the border with South Sudan on Monday, October 8 both sides said, their first assault on the government stronghold since last year, according to Reuters.
Government radio said the shelling killed five people and wounded at least 23, without saying whether they were military or civilian casualties.
Fighting in the state has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes and stoked tensions between Sudan and South Sudan since they split apart last year under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war.
Under international pressure, Sudan and South Sudan agreed last month to secure their border after clashing along it several times in the past year. Indirect talks between Khartoum and the rebels have made little progress.
Sudan's army spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khalid said the insurgents had fired eight shells from about six kilometers outside Kadugli, the state capital, and earlier on Monday said one woman had been killed.
Khalid accused the insurgents of targeting a conference of political leaders scheduled to be held in the city. Presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie, a high-ranking official, had been scheduled to speak, state media reported.
Rebel spokesman Arnu Lodi confirmed the rebels were shelling the town. He said he could not comment on casualties but that the rebels were only attacking military targets.
Khartoum accuses South Sudan of backing the rebels - known as the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) - who fought as part of the southern rebel army during the war. South Sudan denies the charge.